Never in doubt was it?!
Only 8 minutes away from suffering from the dreaded ‘second season syndrome’, up pops Hunty to save us. Jubilation ripped round the ‘Old Molineux’ as we knew that we going to be in the EPL for a third consecutive season. What a relief then to see us stay in the league after being 3-0 down at half time to a very competent Blackburn Rovers team on the day, but how did we get ourselves into this position?
The season started off so well with an opening day win against the Potters with our new £7M striker Steven Fletcher looking as though it was money well spent. However, after Newcastle arrived at Molineux, things started to go downhill rapidly. Joey Barton was subject to some crunching tackles, but nothing unjust. Overnight, we became the ‘dirtiest’ team in the league. Our course wasn’t helped with Berra getting sent off at Fulham and Henry’s challenge on Gomez at Wigan. Rightly or wrongly, we were in the spotlight of the whole nation and I do believe that the pressure told. Last minute goals against Villa, Spurs and Fulham cost us dearly and all of a sudden the optimism of the opening day win against a strong Stoke team and battling draw at Goodison, became a distant memory.
McCarthy defended his troops by saying it was all a flash in the pan and that the media juggernaut will focus on some other poor folk before long. The frenzy the media whipped up was appalling and then when Mr Danny Murphy decided to stick his oar in, the fact of the matter was, Wolves were cracking under the pressure. We, as fans, knew we weren’t a dirty team and if you look at the fair play statistics we were justified. Wolves finished joint 9th in the league with just 2 red cards and 62 yellow cards and when you consider Arsenal had 6 men sent for an early bath last season and Albion an astonishing 7, its hard to see why Wolves were being vilified. Rightly or wrongly we were embroiled in a relegation fight again.
By the time we had lost at home to Wigan on Boxing Day, Wolves were rock bottom with just 15 points, but more importantly only 3 points from safety. This was shaping up to be one of the tightest leagues in the history of the EPL. Our away record was shocking with a poultry 1 point from 8 games. Oh, how we needed a win on our travels, and low and behold it came in our next away trip to Anfield. Wolves were fighting for their lives and going into the New Year, Wolves decided to ignore reputations and rip up the form book. Wins against Chelsea and Man U as well as earlier wins in the season against man City and the aforementioned Liverpool, meant that Wolves were performing well against the ‘bigger’ teams. Our Achilles heel were the results against the ‘lesser’ teams.
Against the top 6 placed teams in the league we took an astonishing 13 points compared to just 8 points from the bottom six (excluding Wolves). It was this kind of form that got us recognition for some of the good play we accomplished during the season. A far cry to our ‘dirty team’ tag earlier on in the season.
For the first time ever, the EPL had the big four West Midlands teams competing against each other. For me, the results we got against our midlands rivals was pivotal in our survival. Wolves came out on top against them achieving 11pts out of 18 with Albion achieving 10, Villa 8 and Blues achieving just 3 points. Having lost just once against our neighbours, Villa at home, we can certainly take the bragging rights for the season and hope to build on this next season.
With us achieving our best ever points tally in a Premier League season, 40, averaging 1.05 points a game , we are moving in the right direction. The permanent additions of Jamie O’Hara, Dorus De Vries and Roger Johnson this close season means we have a very strong spine to our team. Here’s hoping we can build on the pitch as well as off it and avoid the traumatic feelings of Survival Sunday again!
Safety by Christmas would be nice! We can all dream cant we?!